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WIRE Buzz: Roku pursues Quibi's catalog; WandaVision's theme songs; 'Surviving Death' trailer
Weeks after it shut down following less than a year of service, Quibi might be getting a bit of a second life. The Wall Street Journal reports that Roku, the company behind the most popular streaming device in the United States, is in talks to buy the company's catalog of content, giving its own platform a boost in the form of exclusive offerings for its users.
If it goes through, the deal would allow Quibi's existing library — including genre series like The Most Dangerous Game, 50 States of Fright, and more — to be viewed on the free ad-supported Roku Channel available on all Roku devices, and would give viewers the chance to watch Quibi shows on an actual television for the first time.
Quibi began life as the brainchild of Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, and, on the strength of their pitch for the streaming app, raised nearly $2 billion in funding to launch original programming from the likes of Sam Raimi, Chrissy Teigen, Anna Kendrick, and even a planned original horror series from Steven Spielberg that was still developing when the app shuttered.
Short for "quick bites," the idea behind Quibi was to release series in segments of 10 minutes or less, viewable on your mobile device in both landscape and portrait mood, in the hopes of feeding a desire for commuters and young viewers to watch shorter-form content much like short chapters of a paperback thriller. The app launched in April and was largely ignored by users in favor of other streaming options amid complaints that the content couldn't be viewed on televisions and that the app wouldn't allow users to take screenshots to share on social media, among other things.
Quibi pulled the plug on operations on Dec. 1, after less than nine months of service.
If the deal is successful, it would give Roku something of a leg up with The Roku Channel, a free streaming option for Roku users that has traditionally been filled by a selection of content licensed to Roku through other apps carried on Roku devices, something larger carriers are often reluctant to be a part of because they don't want Roku's own streaming channel to compete with their own. By buying the Quibi content outright, Roku would offer its users a substantial library of programming they'll be able to view on a television for the first time, and will make the Quibi shows (which were largely, despite the app's failure, well-produced efforts) available to a wider audience than they ever got on the phone-only app.
It's 2021 at last, which means we can finally say we're just days away from the release of WandaVision, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe streaming series to launch on Disney+. The still-mysterious new series starring Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany in the title roles is now less than two weeks away from its premiere, but Marvel's not done rolling out surprises just yet. A new TV spot arrived Monday and revealed that, along with all the visual nods to classic television eras, the reality-warping streaming show is also getting some very fitting theme songs. Check it out.
Along with the TV spot, Disney also announced that songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, the Oscar-winning duo behind the original songs for Frozen and Frozen 2, will be contributing a number of tunes to the series as Wanda and Vision hop through various American pop-culture eras. So many of the visuals we've seen for the show so far are informed by classic American television, from the black-and-white dawn of multi-cam sitcoms to the color and antics of the 1960s and 1970s, and now we'll have music to go along with all those looks.
“I grew up in the ’80s watching shows from every decade on the networks all day long," Anderson-Lopez said in a press release. "Episodes from I Love Lucy, Brady Bunch, and Family Ties shaped who I am and how I move through the world. So this project was a dream come true.”
In addition to Olsen and Bettany, WandaVision will also feature the return of Kat Dennings as the scene-stealing Darcy from the first two Thor films, the return of Randall Park as Agent Jimmy Woo from Ant-Man and the Wasp, and the return of Monica Rambeau, a character who made her live-action debut as a child (played by Akira and Azari Akbar at two different ages) in Captain Marvel. Teyonah Parris will play the character, a superhero in her own right in the comics, as an adult. The great Kathryn Hahn is also set to star in WandaVision as a character known only (for now) as Agnes.
WandaVision ushers in a new era of the MCU when it debuts on Disney+ Jan. 15.
If you find yourself contemplating your own mortality and the mysteries of it more than usual lately, you're not alone. The folks at Netflix have also spent a lot of time thinking about death, the afterlife, and all the strange experiences tied to both lately, and we're about to see the results in the form of a new docuseries titled Surviving Death. The series hits Netflix Wednesday, but you can check out the trailer right now.
Directed and executive-produced by Ricki Stern (Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work) and based on Leslie Kean's book of the same name, Surviving Death will spend six episodes exploring "innovative new research and firsthand accounts" in an attempt to answer some of humanity's biggest questions surrounding death. In the trailer above you'll meet everyone from people experimenting with spirit photography to people who claim to have had an afterlife experience during near-death to people who believe they've been sent signs by loved ones who've passed on. It's all in service to an "extraordinary journey" that hopes to challenge our understanding of what happens when, and after, we die.
Surviving Death premieres Jan. 6 on Netflix.